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Mizo
Spoken in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Israel
Region Mizoram, Tripura, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland
Total speakers 700,000+

674,756 in India (2001 census);12,500 in Myanmar (1983);1,041 in Bangladesh (1981 census)

Language family Sino-Tibetan
Official status
Official language in Mizoram (India)
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 lus
ISO 639-3 lus

The Mizo language (Mizo: Mizo ţawng) is natively spoken by Mizo people in Mizoram, a state in the Indian Union; in Chin State of Myanmar and in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. The language is also known as Lushai (by the Colonial British), as Lusei people are the first clan who have an external exposure. For this reason, even in most of modern writings Lushai (or Lusei) is being used instead of Mizo.

Contents

History

The Mizo language is the Kuki-Chin branch of the Tibeto-Burman group of languages. The numerous clans of the Mizo had respective dialects, amongst which the Lushai (Lusei, by Mizo themselves) dialect was most common, and which subsequently became the Mizo language and the lingua franca of the Kuki-Chin people due to its extensive and exclusive used by the Christian missionaries.

Writing System

Christian missionaries[1] started developing a script for the language by adopting the Italian pronunciation of the Roman alphabet with a phonetic form of spelling based on the Hunterian system of transliteration. The 25 letters used for writing in Mizo language are:

a, aw, b, ch, d, e, f, g, ng, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, ţ, u, v, z.

Sounds

Later there were some developments in the letters where the symbol ^ was added to the vowel in the word to indicate long tone, viz., â, ê, î, ô, û. Recently, a leading newspaper in Mizoram, Vanglaini and a magazine Kristian Ţhalai start using á, à, é, è, í, ì, ó, ò, ú, ù to indicated the long tone ending in high tone and low tone respectively.

Relation with other language

Mizo language is similar or related with other group of languages like Tibeto-Burman[2] and Austro-Asiatic languages[3].

Mizo and Burmese

The following few words suggest that Mizo and the Burmese are of the same family: kun ("to bend"), kam ("bank of a river"), kha ("bitter"), sam ("hair"), mei ("fire"), that ("to kill"), ni ("sun")

Phonetics

In Mizo, large groups of words are obviously related to one another both in sound and in meaning, with proper regular systematic pattern. For example: puar ("slightly bulging"), na ("to feel pain"), lang ("to float"), huan ("garden"), thiam ("to know", such as languages or knowledge), thau ("fat"), lian ("big"), buai ("to be troubled of"), pem ("to move from one town or city to another"), puan ("a piece of cloth"), puar ("to bulge", as in a goitre), hmelchhia ("ugly"), piang ("born"), ropui ("great", "mighty", "powerful"), bial ("round", "bulbous").

Consonants

Mizo is a tonal language, in which differences in pitch and pitch contour can change the meanings of words. Tone systems have developed independently in many of the daughter languages largely through simplifications in the set of possible syllable-final and syllable-initial consonants. Typically, a distinction between voiceless and voiced initial consonants is replaced by a distinction between high and low tone, while falling and rising tones developed from syllable-final h and glottal stop, which themselves often reflect earlier consonants.

Grammar

Mizo contains many analyzable polysyllables, which are polysyllabic units in which the individual syllables have meaning by themselves. In a true monosyllabic language, polysyllables are mostly confined to compound words, such as "lighthouse". The first syllables of compounds tend over time to be de-stressed, and may eventually be reduced to prefixed consonants. The word nuntheihna ("survival") is composed of nung ("to live"), theih ("possible") and na (a nominalizing suffix); likewise, theihna means "possibility". Virtually all polysyllabic morphemes in Mizo can be shown to originate in this way. For example, the disyllabic form phengphehlep ("butterfly"), which occurs in one dialect of the Trung (or Dulung) language of Yunnan, is actually a reduced form of the compound blak kwar, found in a closely related dialect. It is reported over 18 of the dialects share about 850 words with the same meaning. For example, ban ("arm"), ke ("leg"), thla ("wing", "month"), lu ("head") and kut ("hand").

Unique Parts of Speech in Mizo Ţawng

All kinds of Parts of Speech like noun, pronoun, verbs, etc can be found in Mizo language with some additional unique kinds - post-positions and double adverbs.

Dialects

The Mizo dialects can be classified broadly as ten groups - Aso, Chho, Halam, Hmar, Lai, Lusei, Mara, Miu-Khumi, Paite and Thado-Kuki.

Aso Groups

List:

Regions:

Chho Groups

List: Chho (Cho) Sub Groups: Mun, Kaang and Ukpu.

Regions: All of Mindat, Kanpetlet,Matupi (Matupui)Township and some of Paletwa township in Chin State of Burma. Some Townships in Arakan State and some townships in Magwe Division in Burma.

Halam Groups

List: Halam

Regions:

Hmar Groups

List: Hmar, Biate

Regions:

Lai Groups

List: Lai, Laizo, Halam

Regions: Falam, Hakha, Thantlang township in Chin State, Myanmar

Lusei Groups

List: Lusei, Ralte, Hualngo.

Regions:

Mara Groups

List: Mara, Serkawr

Regions: Saiha Township in Mizoram, India and Few of Matupi township in Chin State, Burma

Miu-Khumi Groups

List:

Regions: Most of Paletwa Township, Chin State in Burma

Paite Groups

List: Paite, Tedim

Regions: Tedim, Tungzang township in Chin State Burma and some township in Manipur State in India.

Thado-Kuki Groups

List: Kuki,Thado

Regions: Few township in Sitkiang Division in Burma and few township in Manipur state, India

Mizo literature

The Mizo language has a thriving literature with a Mizo Department at Mizoram University, up to Ph.D. degree and Manipur University, up to M.A. degree.

Statistics

There are around 700,000 speakers of Mizo dialects (Lusei (Duhlian), Lusei(Hualngo)): 674,756 speakers in India (2001 census); 1,041 speakers in Bangladesh (1981 census); 12,500 speakers in Myanmar (1983 census).

References

  1. ^ Lalthangliana, B.: 2001, History and Culture of Mizo in India, Burma and Bangladesh, Aizawl. "Baptist Missionary Conference, 1892", p. 745
  2. ^ Mc Kinnon, John and Wanat Bruksasri (Editors): The Higlangders of Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Oxford University Press, 1983, p. 65.
  3. ^ Luce, Prof. G.H.: 1969, Journal of Burma Research Society, Vol. XLII, p. 25.

Others:

  1. The Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor, 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc.
  2. K. S. Singh: 1995, People of India-Mizoram, Volume XXXIII, Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta.
  3. Grierson, G. A. (Ed.) (1904b). Tibeto-Burman Family: Specimens of the Kuki-Chin and Burma Groups, Volume III Part III of Linguistic Survey of India. Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta.
  4. Grierson, G. A: 1995, Languages of North-Eastern India, Gian Publishing House, New Delhi.
  5. Malsawmtluanga, 1994 Mizoram, Aizawl

External links


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